Has it really been 10 years?

Ten years since I donned the neon-blue graduation cap and gown?

Ten years since I sat in the sweltering gymnasium that evening and wondered aloud why I bothered wearing pants?

Ten years since I was handed the "stunt diploma" -- they mailed the real one to my house-- and officially became a 1981 graduate of Old Mill High School?

I draw another step closer to my own mortality on Aug. 24, as my classmates gather at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie for our 10-year reunion.

Ten years?

Seems like only yesterday that I was lying face-first on a smelly wrestling mat while Mr. Hampe supervised the morning push-ups. He never could relate to my patented technique of resting on my forehead between counts.

Seems like only yesterdaythat the halls were abuzz with the news that Mr. Carducci (yes, the same one) had engaged in another heated chase of some delinquents through the woods behind the school.

And could 10 years really have passed since I ate my last beef-patty-on-roll in the cafeteria? Those things become "hamburgers" the day after you graduate, you know. And I don't believe I've run across a "tater tot" since then, either.

Anyway, the memories came flooding back as I scanned the questionnaire mailed to my home by an anonymous classmate. And I grew more depressed by the minute.

The first few inquiries were easy enough: Name,Marital Status, Number of Children, College. But then came the killer: Best High School Memory.

I'm not sure I have one. Is this a prerequisite?

How about "The Day I Got Out?" Or "Feigning A Debilitating Illness To Avoid 6th-Period Math?"

Better I move on.

The last line asks if I'm attending the reunion. The correct answer could cost me $26 a person.

I missed the five-year gig at Empire Towers in Glen Burnie, and the guilt still haunts me. I swore I'd never pass up another chance to nibble hors d'oeuvres with a bunch of people whose names escape me at the moment.

Laura Serafin-Bagnell, now living in Crofton and teaching 6th-grade math at Corkran Middle school, said the five-year reunion drew 212 people. More than 500 comprised theclass of '81. Apparently I wasn't the only slacker in the group.

"But we had an awful lot of fun," said Serafin-Bagnell, a former varsity cheerleader and member of the National Honor Society. "I keep in touch with no one, so that's why it's important for me to see what these people are doing now. You really should attend."

I attempted to reach our senior class president for further guidance on the matter, but she never returned my calls. As if I needed another reminder ofhow popular I was back then.

What the heck, I'll take my chances and go. Surely there will be plenty to talk about after 10 years. Andif not, I'll make something up.

But has it really been that long?



10. "Wait, didn't you used to have hair?"

9. "Sorry, the Oakland Mills reunion is Thursday."

8. "Take away the extra 70 pounds and the purple crew cut, and you haven't changed a bit."

7. "Don't you still owe me five bucks?"

6. "Yeah, but the cops didn't have a thing on me."

5. "You don't suppose that jerk from theschool newspaper will. . . Oh, hello, Roch."

4. "How about going out to the parking lot and splitting a 12-pack, for old time's sake?"

3. "You don't think Quayle will become president, do you?

2. "You really wanna laugh? I brought my SAT scores."

1. "Yes, I do know what happened to the bimbo. I married her."


One man's draw is another man's victory.

Four county residents who challenged a proposed tax cap in court last year were under the impression they were at least partially successful. The Maryland Court of Appeals did, after all, throw out a provision of the tax cap that would have rolled back property taxes to 1989 levels.

The cap on future tax growth was allowed to stay on the ballot but was defeated at the polls in the November election.

But attorney John Greiber, who defended the tax cap and the group that proposed it, the Anne Arundel Taxpayers Association, says his clients won the case. Greibertook exception to comments made last week by Ray Smallwood, MarylandCity's fire chief and one of the residents who sued to stop the tax cap.

Smallwood, reacting to news that Executive Robert R. Neall had paid the Taxpayers Association $20,000 to cover Greiber's legal fees, said, "I could see it if we lost the lawsuit, but we didn't lose."

Greiber protested. The taxpayers won the case, he said. The Courtof Appeals reversed a Circuit Court decision that had banned the taxcap from the ballot. Greiber did not argue the case before Circuit Court but signed on for the Court of Appeals case.

"The taxpayers won -- the people voted on the tax cap," he said.

The Court of Appeals also ordered the county to pay court costs. "Costs are assessed to the losing party," Greiber argued.

But David Plymyer, the countydeputy attorney who represented the tax cap opponents, refused to concede. "I think it would be best to say the proponents of the tax capwere partially successful -- they got part of the question on the ballot," Plymyer said.

Greiber also took exception to comments made by Mary Rosso, another tax cap opponent, who suggested that TaxpayersAssociation president Robert C. Schaeffer should feel guilty for taking taxpayers' money.

Greiber said Neall's settlement was fair. After all, Rosso's and Smallwood's legal fees were paid by the county at the direction of former County Executive O. James Lighthizer.

"The county instigated the lawsuit -- not Mr. Schaeffer -- and he prevailed," Greiber said. "If this had been struck down, it would have hada chilling effect on voters. No one ever would have gone out to collect signatures again."

Greiber also said he was entitled to the fees under a federal code that awards legal fees to the prevailing party in a constitutional case.

The question of who won aside, Plymyeragreed the settlement was fair. "The payment should not be seen as arepudiation of the opponents," Plymyer said. "It's simply balancing the scales. It was the right and fair thing to do."

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